After two years, what I have come to call “The Lost Collections,” have finally come together into an online exhibit. Many many thanks go out to my friend Krista Carson, who has helped me put all of this together.

Lost Collections of the Ancient World

The story started in January of 2011, when my friend Paige Glenen and I made an incredible discovery in storage at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, in London, Ontario. We had found boxes and boxes of artefacts labeled as “Old World Roman.” The idea that we had a collection of Roman artefacts that we could handle and explore was exciting enough for two Classical archaeologists.

DSC_0006

Roman Terra Sigillata c. 200 CE

However, it soon became very apparent that there was more to the story than we had originally thought. Most of the boxes contained artefacts that were most definitely not of Roman origin, but what were they?

There were some large complete, or almost complete, pots stuffed with old yellowed newsprint. We thought it would be best to remove this acidic product to protect the artefacts (that and we wanted to look inside).  We found many more small artefacts, small pots, human figurines and two Cuneiform cones (cone-shaped baked clay pieces covered with writing known as cuneiform).

This is when we knew we really had something special.

a
Cuneiform Foundation Cone                               c. 2144 – 2124 B.C.E
“For Ningirsu, Enlil’s mighty warrior,
Gudea, ruler of Lagas, made things function as they should (and) he built and restored for him his Eninnu, the Whit Thunderbird.”

Our first thought upon stumbling accross these ancient records, – ‘Are they real?’

The cones are real and the presence of cuneiform text identified the part of our collection as Mesopotamian (the region around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Modern day Iraq and Syria).

Armed with this information we were able to determine that the majority of the artefacts are of Mesopotamian origin and were found at the archaeological site of Ur (in modern southern Iraq).  The majority of the collection dates to c. 5900 – 2000 B.C.E.

The story behind the Lost Collections has proven to be unique and fascinating. I hope you take the time to explore the online exhibit and learn more about the story of the Lost Collections of the Ancient World.

Enjoy!

Fun link for Friday – Babylonian Poems you can HEAR!

As an archaeologist one of the things we can’t recover are the sounds of the past. Languages, accents and music are very difficult to reconstruct. Being able to understand a language is very different from hearing and appreciating all the nuances of pronunciation and tone.

So, it is really cool when we can! The Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East at the University of London have painstakingly reconstructed the language of the ancient Babylonians of Mesopotamia. This language was spoken between   c. 1900 BCE and 1BCE.

You can here them here: The Recordings

And read more about how University of London deciphered the language here.

Ur III Cuneiform Cone – From the Museum of Ontario Archaeology Collection

Ignite Culture: Saying a lot in just 5 minutes!

I recently participated in the first ever Ignite Culture, which was held in Toronto at the ING Direct Cafe.

A big thank you to Jenn Nelson (@unmuseum) for organizing the event!

This wasn’t my first experience with Ignite, but it was the first time I presented in the format; I have to say that I really liked it.

What is Ignite? A series of 5-minute presentations; each presenter gets 20 slides, auto-advancing at 15 second intervals. 

This type of presentation is quick and to the point, allowing you to get a lot of varied content into a short period of time. It also makes for a very lively, enlightening and energetic atmosphere.

Putting the presentation together

Because of previous commitments I only had a couple of days to prepare my slides for the presentation. I had naively thought that this would be easy. It’s was not!

I realized not long after I started that I could not develop a 5-minute presentation the way I normally do – I have winged every presentation I have ever given, at least to some extent. I usually have an outline and points that I want to make, but I never write out a script, nor do I practice. My approach is that if I know the material well enough, and I know what I want to say, than I will be able to present it well.

However, in a 5-minute Ignite presentation you do not have the time to ‘talk about’ anything – with the time limit you only have time to ‘say it.’

I also determined very early on that because the slides are auto-advancing, I was going to have to write the script first and then choose the images/content of the slides to match the script – not the other way around. This meant that each slide had to fit 15 full seconds of content (or 30 seconds if you double-up a slide – which is perfectly fair).  I had never realized the number of times I would input a slide that I would skip past in just a few seconds – which can’t be very impactful.

Presenting

I found that during the presentation itself I began reading the paper with my script – using it a bit like a crutch, and then gradually as I became more comfortable with the pace I was able to abandon the paper and ease back into the more natural style that I normally have.

Overall, I think the experience of designing and presenting in the 5-minute Ignite format has improved my presentation skills.  It has made me more aware of the micro components involved and it has helped me to hone my ability to be concise and to the point. I am looking forward to having another chance to present an Ignite presentation soon! Next time with no script at all – I’m far more comfortable that way!

To see how my session went, you can watch the video on Ignite Culture’s YouTube Channel; How Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia helped shape 1920s and 30s Culture and click through to the other videos after and enjoy some more great presentations!

Photo Credit: Jenn Nelson

Exhibit Opening Soon!

I have been quite busy the last few weeks working on the upcoming exhibit at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology “Lost Collections of the Ancient World: How Roman Britain and Ur Came to Ontario”.

The exhibit opening is July 8th and my friend and co-curator Paige and I are very excited that everything is beginning to come together.

After the opening I will be putting together a proper online exhibit for everyone who is unable to come to London to see the real thing.

Cheers!

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑